Actress Lori Loughlin and more than a dozen other parents have been indicted on fraud and money laundering charges by a federal grand jury for their alleged roles in the massive college admission scandal, federal prosecutors said on Tuesday.
The 16 parents were charged in a second superseding indictment on Tuesday with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, honest services mail and wire fraud, and a new count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in what authorities have called the “largest college admissions scam prosecuted by the Justice Department.”
The new charges alleged that the parents knowingly laundered the bribes through “Singer’s purported charity and his for-profit corporation as well as by transferring money into the United States, from outside the United States, for the purpose of promoting the fraud scheme.”
The additional charges come just one day after Loughlin’s fellow actress Felicity Huffman and a dozen other parents agreed to plead guilty to bribery and fraud related to the scandal.
“I am in full acceptance of my guilt and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions,” Huffman said in a Monday statement, admitting she paid $15,000 for have her daughter’s SAT scores doctored. “I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community. I want to apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college.”
Nearly 50 parents were charged last month after allegedly paying admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer, 58, more than $25 million total to rig test scores, cheat on SAT exams, and bribe college coaches, with the goal of getting their children into elite universities, including the University of Southern California, Georgetown, Stanford, and Yale.
Singer, the alleged mastermind, pleaded guilty in Boston court last month to charges including racketeering, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice.
Loughlin, the 54-year-old actress best known for playing Aunt Becky on Full House, and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, allegedly paid Singer nearly $500,000 to get their two daughters admitted to USC as crew recruits, even though neither teen had previously rowed crew. The payment was made out to Key Worldwide Foundation, a non-profit organization run by Singer.
“I have some concerns and want to fully understand that game plan to make sure we have a roadmap for success as it relates to [our older daughter] and getting her into a school other than ASU!” Giannulli allegedly wrote in an email to Singer, according to Tuesday’s indictment that added a money-laundering charge.
Prosecutors alleged that, in November 2018, Singer called Loughlin to warn her and her husband that his non-profit was being audited by the IRS, and that their two payments were being questioned.
“So I just want to make sure that you know that, one, that you’re probably going to get a call and that I have not told them anything about the girls going through the side door, through crew, even though they didn’t do crew to get into USC,” Singer told Loughlin, according to the indictment. “So I—that is—all I told them was that you guys made a donation to our foundation to help underserved kids.”
“Um-hmm,” Loughlin allegedly replied.
Both daughters, YouTube star Olivia Jade and Bella, have left the school since the scandal erupted, and several beauty brands have dropped the elder daughter from advertisement deals. The Hallmark Channel also cut ties with Loughlin.
In addition to the TV star, other parents hit with additional charges on Tuesday included Homayoun Zadeh, a former associate professor of dentistry at USC, who allegedly claimed his daughter was an elite lacrosse player; and Manuel Henriquez, who recently stepped down as head of a Bay Area hedge fund after being accused of hiring a proctor to sit with his daughter as she took the SAT test. Henriquez’s daughter, Isabelle, is one of the only students who willingly participated in the scheme that got her into Georgetown, according to the complaint.